In Vivo Imaging of Dopamine Metabolism and Dopamine Transporter Function in the Human Brain

  • Matthäus WilleitEmail author
  • Ana Popovic
  • Lucie Bartova
  • Ulrich Sauerzopf
  • Martin Bauer
  • Nicole Praschak-Rieder
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 118)


Positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of the dopamine system allow quantifying specific targets in the living animal and human brain. These methods are thus of great importance for translational brain research and have made it possible to identify and measure neurochemical changes associated with psychiatric disorders for the first time in history. The following chapter focuses on PET and SPECT imaging of psychotic disorders and addresses methods suited for imaging changes in extracellular dopamine levels and their relationship to dopamine metabolism and dopamine transporter function. Specifically, the chapter describes imaging with radiolabeled dopamine precursors (such as [18F]DOPA) and the so-called “competition paradigms,” where a change in extracellular dopamine elicits changes in radioligand binding to dopamine D2/3 receptors. In addition to theoretical background, this chapter provides information on strengths and weaknesses as well as on practical aspects of these methods.

Key words

Dopamine DOPA Psychosis Schizophrenia Amphetamine PET SPECT [11C]-(+)-PHNO 



This work was supported by a grant (P23585) of the FWF Austrian Science Fund granted to M.W.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthäus Willeit
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ana Popovic
    • 1
  • Lucie Bartova
    • 1
  • Ulrich Sauerzopf
    • 1
  • Martin Bauer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nicole Praschak-Rieder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyMedical University ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PharmacologyMedical University ViennaViennaAustria

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